UF Horse Death Spawns Rescue Training Review

The University of Florida's (UF) Large Animal Technical Rescue Team training protocols are under review after a horse drowned during a water rescue training exercise last month.

The UF Large Animal Technical Rescue Team was created three years ago to help save horses and other livestock in crisis situations, and to train veterinarians and other emergency responders on best practices for lifting livestock, moving injured animals, and rescuing large animals in water, among other emergencies, said University Public Affairs Director Janine Sikes.

On April 29 the team was conducting a water rescue exercise at Lake Wauburg in Gainesville, Fla., when the horse belonging to the team's leader drowned.

"It is a heartbreaking accident, and it occurred only moments after successfully demonstrating the same training with a different horse," Sikes said.

She said that protocols for the training exercise during which the horse died were developed based on similar programs around the country and were reviewed and scrutinized by UF's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. The team conducted at least six water rescue training exercises during the past three years without incident, she said.

Last month's incident is under UF Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee review, Sikes said.

"We are reviewing the events and considering whether modifications to the approved protocol are required to reduce the risk and likelihood of a reoccurrence," she said.

She declined further comment pending the review's outcome.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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